No Image Available


Read more from TrainingZone

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1705321608055-0’); });

Bringing Business Skills to IT and IT Skills to Business


Laura Kelly, International Marketing Manager, Thomson NETg examines the factors behind the growing demand for IT skills training and the need for IT departments to receive training in business skills.

Future prospects for the IT training market look bright according to a study by IT recruiter Reed Technology Group (February 2003) which showed that more than 80 per cent of IT companies claim to have seen satisfactory return on investment (ROI) for IT training, with half planning to increase their training spend over the next year.

However, as time goes on, the demand for business and professional skills is expected to become equally important for IT staff and the flexibility offered by e-Learning delivery will accelerate the demand.

A recent survey undertaken by e-skills UK (July 2003, Quarterly Review of the ICT Labour Market) highlighted the lack of IT skills in companies as the number one concern of IT Directors.

It revealed that more than half of the UK’s employers think their IT employees don’t have the skills they need to do their job.

This represents a staggering 10 per cent increase on last year and as such the market for quality IT skills training will continue to grow.

Businesses need staff certified in the very latest technologies to help drive business performance but there is still a need for IT skills at a more generic level.

Filling the IT skills gap

As IT becomes an every day part of the way businesses function, IT skills are increasingly becoming a prerequisite to employment not just for IT staff but at all levels and in all industry sectors.

A recent article in Computing magazine (11.2.04, NHS IT: staff training will be a key factor) highlighted, in particular, the need for training in the health sector, with many staff not having the IT skills needed to use the Department of Health’s National Programme new IT systems.

The danger is that without IT skills training, the new technology systems will be delivered but not used and as such will have no impact upon performance.

As a result, according to a recent study from City and Guilds (28.11.03, Lack of IT proficiency is short changing UK professionals), more employers are looking for job applicants with IT skills and are even beginning to reduce pay rates and career prospects for current employees without the relevant IT skills.

Marketing professionals have the highest expectations to reach with 65 per cent of their employers listing good IT skills as essential criteria in this sector.

The survey also found that there is a worrying lack of general IT skills in the workforce today.

Almost a quarter of workers in the business services industry needed help to turn off their computers, while in the public sector a massive 41 per cent of workers need help to set up a spreadsheet.

Over one in ten (11.5 per cent) of organisations admitted their workforce did not have any IT qualifications.

These findings suggest that it will become increasingly difficult for employees to excel in their career without training in IT skills.

Additionally, the survey suggested the demand for IT skills is so great, failure to have them can result in people losing up to £55,000 a year in potential earnings.

All these issues will mean that the demand for IT skills training will continue to grow unabated.

Bringing IT skills to business

If employers are thinking about rolling out a global IT skills training programme to their employees to raise the level of basic IT literacy throughout the company, what are the benefits and how will this help the organisation achieve its business goals?

Although a big project, it can prove invaluable in the long term.

Not only will ensuring a basic level of IT literacy mean that all employees will be able to effectively utilise the company’s IT equipment properly, it will also help to reduce the strain on the IT department.

By reducing pressure on IT departments, organisations will allow them to focus on projects which will provide greater long-term benefits for the company.

Ideally, the majority of the IT department’s time should be allocated to projects which improve the organisation’s efficiency and increase its competitive advantage.

And bringing business skills to IT

The second part of this IT training equation is to provide the IT department with business and communication skills.

With more free time on their hands they will be increasingly called upon to propose new initiatives to the board, strategically aligned to the organisation’s business goals.

In order to help them communicate effectively to the board and justify the benefits of the projects they are presenting to the CIO or CEO, it is essential they are given training to enhance their business and communications skills.

A recent survey by IT recruitment consultancy Computer People (October 2003, Boardrooms ignore IT input) found that many top business leaders disregard the advice of IT manager, with a third of the IT managers said that the advice they gave to senior management was often ignored.

By empowering your IT department with these skills, the perception of, and respect for, IT within the company will begin to shift from being a cost centre to becoming a central part of the business decision making process and an essential part of ensuring that the business achieves its goals.

Through providing high quality IT skills training to your staff, you can also reduce the demand on the IT department to provide low ROI functions such as help desk advice and will empower them to instead spend time on projects which will help drive the business forward.


Get the latest from TrainingZone.

Elevate your L&D expertise by subscribing to TrainingZone’s newsletter! Get curated insights, premium reports, and event updates from industry leaders.


Thank you!